MousePlanet Mailbag

by Stephanie Wien, staff writer

The rain's coming down in the northeast today, and I'm quietly humming the song from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Another resident of the northeast, staff writer Steve Russo, is in the mailbag spotlight this week, sharing letters on a variety of Disney World topics, starting with responses to his article, "Between Trips - Musings and Observations." (July 31, 2009)

BB writes:

I agree with you, Steve. I love Walt Disney World. Going to Disney is not going to just one place; there are many kingdoms and countries some "real" and others fantasy. It's a perfectly engrossing escape from the daily grind and responsibilities of life. I wish I could move and live nearby.

Yeah, me too. We just returned from a Disney trip on Friday. It's Monday and I'm already missing it.

Cody R. writes:

Not sure how often it is possible, but if you can ever eat at Cinderella's Castle during the fireworks show, the view is breath taking. My wife and I managed to be one of the last reservations of the night during our honeymoon and we were able to see the show from a window seat. Let's just say it's a VERY different perspective when you are at the center of the fireworks show.

Thanks for that tip.

Joel S. writes:

Your comments on bus transportation at Disney World are right on, and we've also felt that bus service has gotten steadily worse. However, I feel that no discussion of improving bus service at Disney can be had without addressing the "gorilla in the room" - the fact that the bus service for an entire resort can be totally brought to its knees by a couple of individuals in wheelchairs. While it's probably not the cause of the overall worsening of service over the past few years, addressing this issue would go a long way towards fixing the current problems.

In bringing up this issue, I'm not at all trying to be insensitive - I admire Disney for its handling of special needs individuals; I love the fact that it is truly one of the most accessible places on the planet for them, and wouldn't change that for the world. However, I think the way these individuals are treated for transportation to and from the parks is a source of frustration for everyone, including for the special needs individuals, who far too often have to put up with rude comments and stares from other insensitive guests.

I've worked for a paratransit service, and feel that a properly implemented mini-bus system for special needs guests is the solution. By utilizing a pre-scheduled (as well as call-as-needed) pickup system at Disney Resorts, and regular shuttle service from the Parks and Destinations (picture a separate bus stop at each park, as well as Downtown Disney with mini-buses constantly available), special-needs individuals would be able to enjoy first class service, and not have to deal with the insensitive comments and stares that we all too often see. Disney would see the benefit of buses that could actually keep to schedules, with increased guest satisfaction and probably be able to lower their overall transportation costs too.

You raise some excellent points and you're right, it's a difficult subject. I agree that Disney does a wonderful job in just about every area of accessibility but there's always room for improvement.

Elizabeth D. writes:

I just read your article about "between trips" and I loved it! It sounds like me! I am a big planner and am always looking for things to make "mental notes" about for our next trip. I love talking Disney so much, that I have started a blog that no one reads, except my family and me. But that's ok, because it is a great outlet to share my Disney thoughts. Plus, it gives me a place to put those "mental notes" you discussed! Though I am on the downslide to 40, I think my memory lapses may be due to having three children (ages 4.5, 3 and 1.5). I am trying to avoid the age issue! I have always loved planning trips as much as taking the trips and now with children, it is more exciting to think of how they will react to things when we arrive. I even have created an elaborate slideshow of our photos and put it on a DVD and You Tube, so we can enjoy looking at the photos anytime we wish.

But, I do have one thing that I want to say. I completely agree with you about rude guests. On our last trip, the number of people who boldly cut in line (some without even pretending to be sorry), stepped in front of our stroller, etc. seemed to be much more commonplace than it used to. Maybe it's my age or maybe it is the fact that I am trying so hard to teach my children the right way to behave that these behaviors stand out more than they used to. Either way, it isn't just you! My family talks about this after every trip (more so after our last one).

As a Disney fanatic, I just wanted to say I really appreciated the article and enjoyed reading your thoughts on Disney!

Thank you. Keep doing what you're doing with your children. If we all set the example, maybe things will take a turn for the better.

Bob B. writes:

The first time I visited Animal Kingdom I was done and gone to Hollywood Studios to re-ride Rock 'n Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror by 1:00 PM. I had visited/done everything except the musicals and the planet watch at Animal Kingdom.

The only things we really like at Animal Kingdom are Expedition Everest and walking the paths around the Tree of Life; after that we are done. For my family this seems to be due to diverse tastes and the mish mash Animal Kingdom seems to be made of. None of us cares for the dinosaur section. Only one of us will ride Kali. The jungle trek and Flights of Wonder are at every animal amusement park and some zoos across the country. The first time I took my wife on Kilimanjaro Safaris we got off and she looked at me and said, "That's it?" I think I'm the only one who likes It's Tough to be a Bug. I cannot put my finger on it but we just cannot get excited about this park. We have closed the other parks numerous times but not Animal Kingdom. Expedition Everest is a smash though, it's the first time I have seen my wife ride a roller coaster more than once in along time. Too bad it's at Animal Kingdom.

Well… I was expecting a few to disagree with me on the Animal Kingdom - I've heard too many talk about the "half-day park." Your family does seem to be especially diverse and that certainly takes a lot of the attractions there out of play for you. Because I don't have a nearby zoo or animal theme park, maybe some of the attractions are a bit more special.

Kirk L. writes:

I hate to bother you but do you have any advice on taking the boat from Hollywood Studios and transferring to a boat to Epcot? I do not know the order of pick up but want to take the boat, as I have never seen Boardwalk or Beach Club. I figured I would catch the boat at Hollywood Studios and then transfer at Swan to Epcot boat if the Swan were the first stop on the Hollywood Studios boat. Any advice is appreciated.

No bother at all… The good news is there's no reason to transfer - the Friendship boats make the continuous trip from Disney's Hollywood Studios to Epcot's International Gateway. Each boat will stop at the Swan/Dolphin, Yacht Club and Boardwalk on the way to Epcot, then reverse the stops on the way back to Hollywood Studios. It's a relaxing trip and a great way to stop and sample some of what's available at the resorts along the way. Enjoy!

Andrew writes:

Thanks for your article on Value/Moderate resorts. We live in the West, so Disneyland is our home park, but we are planning a trip to Walt Disney World in a couple of years and want to use the time to be sufficiently prepared. We have four kids that will range in age from three to eleven when we go on our trip. Typically when we go to Disneyland our entire family will stay in one room. Cozy I know… but its not a big issue for us, and helps us to save a considerable amount of money that we can use towards more frequent trips.

Do the Walt Disney World resorts have a strict policy on the number of guests per room? Which of the Moderate resorts would you recommend for a family our size? I had heard that Riverside has trundle beds that help save room for larger families. Thanks for any help you can provide!

Yes, Walt Disney World does have strict policies on guests per room. It not only relates to comfort but also to safety and fire codes. Port Orleans Riverside offers a maximum of five per room (some rooms have trundle beds), plus a child under three in a crib. No moderate will beat that but you could look at one of the Family Suites at All Star Music, which will sleep up to six. Beyond that, you'd probably be looking at a Deluxe Villa or possibly an off-site vacation home (I know... it's off-site). Good luck in your search and thanks for writing.

Harry W. writes:

I'm writing in response to your little details article ["It's The Little Things," August 28,2009]. You may already know the story but we heard some interesting stuff about the sushi chef at the California Grill last trip. Apparently, Yoshi, a female, came to the United States to pursue her trade; women sushi chefs are frowned upon in Japan because their hands are too warm (or was it cold?). Either way, it was interesting. Also, we were told that she is the only one who knows her secret technique for making the sushi rice and not even the executive chef at the restaurant knows it. And, since she takes off Monday and Tuesday, she makes extra on Sunday. In a world of more cooks than chefs, I thought that was a pretty neat story.

It is a neat story and thanks for sharing it. I wonder if her secret recipe for the sushi rice doesn't involve cold (or warm) hands.